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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Lenten reflection, Ash Wednesday

Ash WednesdayThe prophet Joel proclaims Lent as a season of the heart:

Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord your God (Joel 2:12-13).

The word rend is related to rind, the tough skin around an orange or lemon. Lent invites us to peel away whatever has toughened our hearts through the symbolic act of fasting, creating an inner emptiness and open space. Then the two other traditional Lenten practices come into play, making space for God through prayer and for others through almsgiving.

A vulnerable heart, now reopened to God and to those in need, is a heart renewed. 

The reason for the season is conversion, a heart turned toward God and others, allowing love to flow into and out of it. 

Paul declares, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.” God sends us as advocates of reconciliation. 

Then the world will be renewed—when hatred is transformed to forgiveness; injustice turns to living in right relationship with God, others, and this good earth; and the paschal light of Easter’s risen Lord drives out the darkness of selfishness and sin. 

Father James A. Wallace, C.Ss.R.
Long Branch, N.J.

Scripture readings for today: Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18